Best herb for children's starter

cherone7(Zone 8 - Central MS)September 27, 2011

Looking for a suggestion for easy to grow herb for a 3rd grade class to grow for Christmas gifts. They are learning about gardening this year (school wide gardens will be started later this year) and teacher wants to start early.

She has containers about 4x6x3 or so.

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I am not sure what the winter weather is like where you are but even in MS I fear that it doesn't strike me as a good time of year to be starting any herbs from seed unless you have a light set up. And getting something ready in time for Christmas is a long shot. What facilities do you have available? Is this going to be outdoors? Most herbs are warm weather plants. Mint and parsley which don't mind it cool take a while to grow from seed. The only thing I can think of is cress which grows fast and can be done indoors. Maybe eggheads (see link) Chives might work if you have enough heat and light.

Here is a link that might be useful: cress growing

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 1:20PM
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chudak(10 San Diego)

Don't know about herbs but one of the easiest plants to grow in my experience is radishes. Throw some seeds in the ground, keep watered and they are ready to eat in 2-3 weeks.

They grow FAST.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 2:08PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I dearly love the idea of growing a gift to give and introducing children to gardening, but might I suggest that would be a better project for Mother's Day? That way plants started indoors could be planted outdoors for the summer season. Calendula and marigolds are beautiful and easy to start plants. Basil is a dream to start. Tomatoes are nice and easy - highly forgiving too since if they get a bit leggy the can be planted deeper than most plants allow. Many others....

If looking for a botanical gift to start now, might I suggest maybe some seed saving at this point in the season? Marigolds, calendula, nasturtiums, tomatoes, basil, peppers, squash, and so many more other seeds are easy to save. Granted, if the plant is a hybrid the seed won't come true (be like the parent plant that is), but it will still grow, still flower, or produce fruit. It just might not be as big or as colorful as the parent plant. This would be an excellent project for kids to work on now to collect seeds. They can clean the seed plus create gift seed packets later for the holidays. There is so much to learn about plants and our agricultural history in such a project. The kids will be learning something (seed saving) that many adults in the US today know nothing about.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 3:31PM
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If there is a light set-up, maybe they could learn to start cuttings from mature shrubby herbs like rosemary or lavender.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 3:08AM
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How about some alfalfa? Scatter some seeds onto some damp cottonwool on a plate or plastic dish, stand back and watch them grow! Keep the cottonwool damp, and provide warmth and sunlight. (This is one of the rare times I recommend a sunny windowsill!) Same can happen with mustard seeds, or cress seeds - all of these make wonderful additions to a salad. Lots of other herbs can be started this way, even peas, which make delicious sprouts, and wheat.

Or you could try the 'onion in a bottle' idea. Put some water into a jar, put the root end of an onion onto the rim of the jar, so that the water just touches the base of the onion. The onion will produce roots, which the kids can watch growing. With luck, that onion will also start to sprout shoots, and can be planted. You can do the same with the large seeds of an avocado or a choko (I think you call them chayotes?). OK, so an onion isn't 'glamorous', but it gives the kids an opportunity to watch it grow, and (in all seriousness) it only has to survive until Christmas day!!

Or plant a sprouting/green potato!

The cuttings idea for rosemary or lavender is a good one - that's 'real' gardening, complete with dirt! But don't waste any time getting them started, with your winter approaching. Other shrubby herbs can be started in the same way - thyme, basil, curry plant, and lots more.

Perhaps think about a strawberry offshoot, or a piece of ginger. The ginger would probably be a better option for the warmer seasons - it dies down in winter, even here in the subtropics.

You could also try a stem of lemongrass, or some chives or spring onions. Mint is very easy to start from runners. Go for the common or garden Spearmint for best results.

Most seeds that you buy for cooking in your supermarket can be used to propagate from. Use the cottonwool as a starter for the kids - make sure to have more 'starters' than will be needed for gift-giving, so if some don't come up in time (or at all), you should get a few, at least! Think of sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds - whatever your supermarket stocks. What isn't used for propagating can always be used in your cooking! Peppercorns won't work, however.

Here is a link that might be useful: mini gardens for kids

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 10:44AM
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